WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama says the government must bring down America’s deficit and avoid the pending expiration of tax cuts for the middle class, two areas where Democrats and Republicans agree.
But making tax cuts for wealthier Americans passed during the Bush administration permanent is not fair and would require the U.S. to borrow another $700 billion from other countries to pay for it, Obama said in his weekly radio and online address Saturday.
It was Obama’s first weekly address since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives last week and winnowed the Democrats’ majority in the Senate.
The president urged Republicans to work with him and reach agreement on extending tax cuts.
“The campaign season is over,” Obama said. “And it’s time to focus on our shared responsibilities and work together.”
Obama's long-standing position has been that individuals with incomes less than $200,000 a year and couples making less than $250,000 should continue to enjoy the tax cuts enacted during George W. Bush’s presidency but that those making more should return to the higher rates before Bush took office. The tax cuts, enacted in 2001 and 2003, are due to expire Dec. 31.
“We’d be digging ourselves into an even deeper fiscal hole and passing the burden onto our children,” he said, referring to permanent extension of the tax cuts for wealthier Americans.
Republicans said this week they strongly favor renewing all the Bush tax cuts, given the struggling economy.
The White House said this week after stinging congressional elections for Democrats that Obama is willing to consider a compromise for a one or two-year extension of all the tax cuts, even for families earning more than $250,000 a year.
Obama has invited Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to meet with him on the economy and jobs after he returns from his 10-day trip to Asia.
“I believe there’s room for us to compromise and get it done together,” Obama said in his address Saturday.
Sen. elect Marco Rubio of Florida said in the Republican address that lawmakers owe it to the voters to make a course correction from the spending and deficits of the last two years.
“The past two years provided a frightening glimpse at what could become of our great nation if we continue down the current path: wasteful spending, a growing debt and a government reaching ever further into our lives, even into our health care decisions.”
Rubio said during the campaign that he opposes any compromise that does not extend current tax policies to all taxpayers. He said he does not support any tax increases with the economy in its current condition.